Too little, too late for truancy epidemic

Today’s announcement is a panicked reaction that will do little to arrest the truancy epidemic that has exploded under Labour’s watch, National’s Education spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“Under this Government, the number of students chronically absent from school has exploded by 50 per cent to unprecedented levels in only four years.

“Over two years ago the Government stated “school attendance has to improve” yet two years later, attendance has slipped even further and we are now seeing the direct impact of this disengagement in our communities – from stolen cars to ram raids and brazen thefts by children as young as nine.

“Covid-19 was always going to mean that our most vulnerable students were at a high risk of becoming disengaged with the education system. The Government knew this and yet did nothing over the last two years to target our most vulnerable students and their families, and we’re now seeing the consequences of that failure. Today’s announcement is two years too late.

“This is classic Labour: throwing more money at a problem and announcing future announcements, without offering new ideas or solutions. It’s a panicked response to a sharp uptick in juvenile crime that has been caused by the Government failing our most vulnerable students and leaving them to become chronically truant.

“The part-time Education Minister has been pre-occupied by banning fizzy drinks while the education system falls into crisis. The Government has hired an extra 1,400 bureaucrats to the 4,000-strong Ministry of Education since 2017, and not a single one has been employed to improve truancy.

“National has been the only party in Parliament consistently raising the importance of attendance, releasing a comprehensive plan last year to get schools back on track. 

“The Government needs to focus on the basics. Education is the strongest tool we have to ensure all students get an equal chance in life that allows them to be successful and compete on the world stage.”